Sunday 22 April 2012

S'pore to showcase urban solutions at summit

More than 15,000 delegates, including global leaders and experts, expected at July event
By Jessica Cheam, The Straits Times, 21 Apr 2012

SINGAPORE is cementing its position as a centre for urban solutions with the launch of a three-in-one summit in July, when it plays host to global leaders and experts from around the world.

More than 15,000 high-level delegates, including the United Nations Development Programme administrator Helen Clark, are expected to congregate here to discuss a wide range of issues, such as waste and water management, urban planning and green technology.

Executive director Khoo Teng Chye of the Centre for Liveable Cities said at a media conference yesterday that Singapore has done well in integrating urban solutions that address these issues.

It is also keen to showcase its best practices even as it learns from the success stories of other cities across the globe.

Citing World Bank statistics, Mr Khoo noted that the number of people living in cities will increase from 3 billion in 2000 to 6.4 billion by 2050.

Policymakers and city planners are looking to solve problems in water, waste management, housing and transport while businesses are looking to take advantage of the burgeoning urban solutions industry, he said.

This year, the discussions will take place across three events, all held at Marina Bay Sands from July 1 to 5.

These are the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) and the inaugural Clean Enviro Summit Singapore (CESS).

The mega summit - the first of its kind - will focus on the theme of integrated solutions, said Mr Khoo.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) has identified urban solutions as a key growth sector for Singapore, particularly in exporting its home-grown technology and to be a 'living lab' for global companies to test-bed and commercialise green solutions here.

The wider clean technology or 'cleantech' industry is expected to contribute $3.4 billion to Singapore's gross domestic product and employ 18,000 people by 2015.

Singapore has a similar strategy for water technologies.

National water agency PUB's chief executive Chew Men Leong noted yesterday that the global outlook for the water industry is 'very positive', and it is projected to grow 7.5 per cent annually to $22 billion by 2016.

Singapore-based companies had secured $8.4 billion worth of overseas projects from 2006 to 2010, he said.

The SIWW, which was an annual affair, will now take place once in two years to be in sync with the other two events.

Separately, National Environment Agency chief executive Andrew Tan said Singapore was launching the Clean Enviro Summit to meet the urgent need to address waste management as Asian cities grow in wealth and population.

He noted that two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste were generated globally last year but only 11 per cent went to waste-to-energy plants, with 70 per cent going to landfills.

At the summit, Singapore will showcase some of its latest projects, such as Punggol Eco-Town, Marina Bay and Jurong Lake District. They have adopted district-wide solutions such as smart grids, energy-efficient lighting and green transport.

Mr Patrick Boyle, general manager of tech giant IBM's government and health industry in South-east Asia, told The Straits Times that Singapore was a 'leading-edge' example of integrated urban solutions. Such solutions, he said, were increasingly being adopted around the world.

Mr Ynse de Boer, senior manager of sustainability services at consultancy firm Accenture, said the summit is 'important for both public and private sectors to collaborate and tackle environmental challenges'.

His firm estimates that the value of energy savings that can arise from such solutions could be an annual US$900 billion (S$1.1 trillion) by 2020.

IBM and Accenture are sponsors for the World Cities Summit.

Notable speakers expected at the event include India's Minister of Urban Development Kamal Nath, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and World Bank vice-president Pamela Cox.

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